Achieving equality in tech

Aug 15, 2018 | Diversity

Rachel Tonner, a Careers Consultant at Imperial College Business School, shares how data is being used to help address gender inequality in tech. 

Achieving gender equality in tech is a challenge many companies are facing. The current employment statistics show that women make up only 17% of the UK tech sector and worldwide the figure is estimated as 13.5%, with artificial intelligence having a lower representation. 

As a result, many companies are undertaking initiatives to address the challenge. However, when attending a high profile equality session at Viva Technology (a tech conference with 100,000 attendees) more than half the room departed. This doesn’t seem to align with what I’ve been hearing from businesses that cite equality as a priority. 

After reading more about this challenge and where successes are occurring, a constant theme appears. Successful companies are using data to identify where inequality occurs and why, and helping their leadership teams to understand the roots of the challenge in their particular business.

Some companies, such as Salesforce, are using data to improve equality of women in tech. 

Salesforce’s Chief Equality Officer, Tony Prophet, recently spoke about how the company is using “equality scorecards” to hold management to account and drive forward women into the company. 

Data – such as the number of female managers and employees hired, the number who have departed, where to and why, and compared to the previous year – is helping the company to close the gap as well as to encourage managers to be accountable and build a conscious mind-set around equality in their teams. Salesforce is also leading the charge in equality initiatives across the business at all levels. 

Human resources activities are also contributing to success. HR teams are involved in a rigorous review of female employee appraisals over the previous years. They are identifying where interest in career progression has been expressed, the number of opportunities offered to support this, what the opportunities were and how they compare to the activities of male employees. This data is used to create equality strategies.

Survey Monkey and CNET are undertaking an interesting study on how data can improve inclusion with the view of giving data driven ways to create a sense of inclusion, with results to be shared in coming months. 

A helpful data set was publicised in a recent report by ISACA, naming the leading reasons for inequality of women in tech, providing companies with tangible ideas for them to explore and develop. 

The bottom line is that equality isn’t only about opportunities regardless of race or age or gender, but about making businesses more successful. In a world where data is becoming more available, companies using data as a starting point to meet the equality challenge cannot be underestimated.  

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